Review Summary: A triumph of the human soul in the face of loss
It’s not often I find myself enjoying what could be considered upbeat albums. I enjoy far too many of the qualities of a sombre haunt to ever see the light of day: with introspection, lament and washed away soundscapes nothing is more delightful than a violent massacre through the morgue. There is something however really moving about Destroyer’s hopeful and arguably best album Streethawk: A Seduction. This album is everything a down-trodden noon drinker could ask for: sprawling, immense song structures, lyrical potency and fiery attitude but all in a much different light. The twist here is this is not an album of despair it is an album of finding yourself and what you love. This album is a triumphant narrative of the human soul, a beautiful journey through self-exploration and discovering of the self.
This album marked the end of an era so to say for the band’s sound with their following releases the band began to grow in a direction adding more layers, bells and whistles to their sound, a necessary step for the band as I believe Streethawk is the album Destroyer set out to release all along. Each and every album in the band’s sound matured and grew, at a snail’s pace, but flipping through Destroyer’s discography it is like looking at pictures at each phase of the band’s life where they were as writers and people. Through all of the self-exploration Destroyer performed with their sound throughout their various LPs they molded their sound up until the releases led to Streethawk: A Seduction. The themes of this album in context are all too fitting, this album represents a coming of age for the band where they fully realized themselves and the outer limits of their long-ran direction.
On their later albums such as Your Blues and Kaputt the band begin experimenting more with louder, bigger melodies yet the band never again reached the complexity of Streethawk. This album is fairly bare as compared to their later more popular releases, acoustic guitar, bass and piano are some of the main weapons of choice on this album but yet this manages to convey and perform so much with so little. This album is immense and all without the help of a single thick riff; the songwriting itself the carries the weight of the album to make it more than the sum of its parts. The interplay between guitar, drum and piano is breathtaking at times, the interplay between instruments is head-spinning as each instrument bounces off one another and weaves in and out of each other nearly seamlessly. Songs start off quiet but often switch things up with added flair in each song, enough to make them feel unique and stand out.
Following on the theme of less is more: the lyrics also have a vast impact to the song structures. Dan Bejar’s vocals are bizarre to say at the least (I once heard them described as pedophile-like) but as you progress through the album Bejar’s honest catharsis and emotional affect quickly prove that he is more than a worthy vocalist for an album of this magnitude. Each and every line on this album is golden Mewithoutyou-tier lyrics covering a wide array of topics on the subject of finding yourself in a harsh reality exploring love, religion, and cherishing the little moments in life. Dan Bejar seethes with anger for the world that has so unfairly treated him and his loved ones but rejoices in the moments that they share together.
The vocal delivery perfectly reflects the sprawling theme of the album’s songwriting: this is an introspective album. The extensive soundscapes reflecting the inner most secrets, thoughts and dialogues of a man trying to find himself in a less than fair world and the presentation of these ideas make it feel like you are bouncing around in the anxiety riddled, yet hopeful mind of this man trying to find peace. The song structures are so carefully crafted in delivering a visceral picture that it would be difficult to imagine any of these songs with a single note changed from its current form. This is the free mind of Bejar, you just got to have faith.
“She tasted of the Christmas wines and said
So many things have run through me.
I know the altar boys, they just wanna do me and that's fine.
You got to have faith. Yeah, you got to have it."